There has been a lot of talk - both in traditional and online media - about the Government's desire to better understand (and potentially regulate) the many online social channels we use to connect.
From Blogs to Twitter, there is a potential appetite for groups like the FCC to become more involved as a means to protect the public from unscrupulous Marketers. After the weekend I had, they may want to buckle down and pay a little closer attention to traditional mass media. Over the weekend, I decided to do some personal media outreach for the release of my first business book, Six Pixels of Separation (which will be in-stores on September 7th, 2009). I approached about one hundred individuals I know who publish content (some were Bloggers and others were Journalists, Editors and Publishers with some of the most highly regarded publications in the world) with an email request for help in getting the word out about the book.
What happened next shocked me.
Even though it was less than a handful of the respondents, I got back multiple emails that basically said if I wanted coverage in their publications it would have to be in exchange for:
- Buying advertising.
- Providing free copies of my book for them to distribute to clients for the holidays.
- Sending them solid advertising leads.
- Providing Digital Marketing services from Twist Image to the publication in exchange for editorial coverage.
- Creating "non-biased" original content that they would pre-approve and then use on their properties.
That smells like payola. It is highly unethical. It is very disturbing.
As a former Publisher of multiple magazines, I was both shocked and disappointed that the state of media has come to this. My first reaction was to go to the publisher's website and see if there was any form of disclosure that some of the editorial content presented within their properties may be either advertorial or sponsored by an advertiser. It won't shock you to hear that none of them had such a disclosure.
Why not just buy an ad?
If I wanted biased and paid content, all that we would have to do at Twist Image is buy some advertising. It's almost humorous to think that these mass media publishers now see their own content as nothing more than a commercial channel for advertising. What happened to editorial content and advertising acting more like church and state?
Does this disgust, scare and sadden you?